Eliud Kiptanui clocks 2:05:39 for course record at 2010 Prague Marathon (PIM Organisers) © Copyright
Organisers of the race's 31st edition, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, have insured the EUR 225,000 World record bonus the winner will receive if he betters the 2:03:59 World record set by Haile Gebrselassie in 2008. And the expectations in this Dutch harbour town, which has produced the fastest times of the last two years, are very high. The weather forecast for Sunday, calling for temperatures of 12-14 C. degrees at the 11 a.m. start with very light winds and sunny conditions, also seems to be cooperating.
In addition to the four sub-2:06 men in the field, another three who have broken 2:07 will also be toeing the line. At the pre-race press conference they were referred to as "The Magnificent Seven". The fastest man in the race is Kenyan Vincent Kipruto, who finished third last year in Rotterdam with a time of 2:05:13. Also coming back to the very fast and flat Rotterdam course is Ethiopian Feyisa Lelisa, last year's number four with a personal best of 2:05:23. The other two who have ran the 42.195Km inside 2:06:00 are Kenyan Eliud Kiptanui (2:05:39) and Ethiopian Getu Feleke, who won the Amsterdam marathon last year in 2:05:44.
"Last year, when Patrick Makau won in 2:04:48, we lost the World record between 20 and 30 kilometers," race director Mario Kadiks said. He added that the "Magnificent Seven" will be able to count on excellent pace making through Kenyans Peter Kirui, Eric Ndiema and Sammy Kitwara. "We will go out with a much smaller fast group than last year. Six pace makers and the seven fastest men."
Kiptanui, who won the Prague Marathon last year, said, "I am well prepared. I hope to improve my Prague personal best of 2:05:39. I had a test in Dubai earlier this doing 30 kilometres. I was feeling very well and felt there I will be able to go for a 2:04:00 time. Already from the time I was a kid I am and great admirer of Haile Gebrselassie. I want to run very close to his best time. Here I will run my own race."
The 23-year-old Kipruto, who set his 2:05:13 career best in Rotterdam last year, ran into a problem them that cost him a considerable among of time: the inner sole in one of his running shoes was curled up and he had to stop to remove it. "I have great plans for Sunday," he said.
Organisers couldn't present all the leading contenders at the Thursday's press conference as some were delayed due to visa problems, but confirmed that they expected that they'd all arrive in Rotterdam on time.
The fastest woman in the race is Kenyan Rita Jeptoo with a personal best of 2:23:28. Dutchwoman Hilda Kibet is the third fastest on the women's starting list with a personal best of 2:26:23. A very dangerous outsider is Kenyan Philes Ongori who is running her first Marathon.
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF
Leading entrants (with DOB, career best, finish position, race)
Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) - D.o.B: 13-09-1987; PB: 2.05.13, (3), Rotterdam, 2010
Feyisa Lelisa (Ethiopia) - D.o.B: 01-02-1990; PB: 2.05.23, (4), Rotterdam, 2010
Eliud Kiptanui (Kenya) - D.o.B: 06-06-1989; PB: 2.05.39, (1), Prague, 2010
Getu Feleke (Ethiopia) - D.o.B: 28-11-1986; PB: 2.05.44, (1), Amsterdam, 2010
Wilson Chebet (Kenya) - D.o.B: 12-07-1985; PB: 2.06.12, (2), Amsterdam, 2010
Gilbert Kirwa (Kenya) - D.o.B: 20-12-1985; PB: 2.06.14, (1) , Frankfurt, 2009
Chala Dechase (Ethiopia) - D.o.B: 13-06-1984; PB: 2.06.12, ,(2), Dubai, 2010
Michael Kipyego (Kenya) - D.o.B: 02-10-1983; PB: debut
Alemayehu Shumye (Ethiopia) - D.o.B: 1988; PB: 2.08.46, (5), Frankfurt, 2009
Hailu Mesfin (Ethiopia) - D.o.B: 1984; PB: 2.09.50, (2), Xiamen, 2011
James Kibocha Theuri (France) - D.o.B: 30-11-1978; PB: 2.10.39, (14), Paris, 2009
Koen Raymaekers (The Netherlands) - D.o.B: 31-017-1980; PB: 2.11.09, (9), Rotterdam, 2010
Rita Jeptoo (Kenya) - D.o.B: 15-02-1981; PB: 2.23.38, (1), Boston, 2006
Worknesh Tola (Ethiopia) - D.o.B: 03-06-1977; PB: 2.25.37, (2), Paris, 2008
Hilda Kibet (The Netherlands) - D.o.B: 27-03-1981; PB: 2.26.23, (6), Frankfurt, 2010
Phyles Ongori (Kenya) - D.o.B: 19-07-1986; PB: debut
Olga Glok (Russia) - D.o.B: 16-12-1982; PB: 2.28.27, (1), Prague, 2009
Irene Limika (Kenya) - D.o.B: 28-08-1979; PB: 2.28.31, (4), Frankfurt, 2008
Alessandra Aguilar (Spain) - D.o.B: 01-07-1978; PB: 2.29.01, (1), Hamburg, 2009
Beatriz Ros Blanco (Spain) - D.o.B: 12-05-1974; PB: 2.29.25, (13), Saint Denis, 2003
Shetaye Bedaso (Ethiopia) - D.o.B: unknown; PB: 2.29.48, (5), Amsterdam, 2010
Yevgenia Danilova (Russia) - D.o.B: 10-08-1981; PB: 2.31.44, (4), Rotterdam, 2010
1999 Galfione on track